UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Peter Hernon

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Fascinating, outrageous, factual saga of America's powerful beer barons--the Busch family of St. Louis. Adolphus Busch--wine connoisseur and scorner of his flagship beer, Budweiser (``Ach, dot schlop?''), battler of Prohibition and shrewd judge of human nature (``Another bad trait in the American's character is hypocrisy. He recommends...prohibition...while at the same time drinks like a fish and becomes drunk as a fool''), influence purchaser (Pres. Taft rewarded Busch's campaign-help by appointing Busch's personal lawyer secretary of commerce)--arrived in St. Louis from Germany in 1857. By his death, he had founded a family dynasty that today has the lion's share of the US beer market (and a CEO earning $22 million in 1988). With more than 200 interviews and several thousand pages of public and private documents, Hernon and Ganey (special projects reporter and state capital bureau chief, respectively, for the St. Louis Post Dispatch) show how the succeeding five generations of this family made enough connections--Adolph Hitler; Al Capone; Presidents Taft, T. Roosevelt, FDR, Truman--and created enough scandals--drug addiction, alcoholism, illegitimate children, ear-ripping assault, murder over homosexual liaison--to dwarf the peccadilloes of the Kennedys. And all this while keeping the cork in the bottle! The authors had difficulty gaining access to the current chief--August R. Busch--whose principal bogeyman is what he calls the ``neoprohibitionist'' movement. Busch, it seems, has good reasons to fear probing. For example, during the 60's, Anheuser-Busch hired a team at the Univ. of Penn.'s Wharton School to study drinking behavior. The result was a profile of four types of drinkers, two of which drank to escape personal or social failure. The advertising then zeroed in on these ``target market segments'' with splendid success. Adroitly told, fresh, provocative, with plenty of froth and also substance; certain to excite comment. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 24th, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-69024-8
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991




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